How did each club get on in the WSL this season?

Chelsea lift the WSL trophyImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,

Chelsea won 14 major trophies under manager Emma Hayes

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The Women's Super League season has come to another dramatic end with Chelsea securing a fifth successive title on the final day.

But how did your club get on? Did they exceed expectations or was it a disappointing campaign?

I've assessed all 12 clubs and looked back on how my pre-season predictions turned out...

Champions - Chelsea

Chelsea wrapped up a fifth title in a row in some style with a 6-0 thrashing of Manchester United on Saturday - the perfect send-off for manager Emma Hayes.

They were my favourites to win the league yet again but I did not envisage the challenges they would face on the way.

Serious injuries to key players - superstar Sam Kerr, new signing Mia Fishel and captain Millie Bright - as well as the announcement of Hayes' departure, meant this was their most impressive WSL title success.

Youngster Aggie Beever-Jones stepped up to deliver and Chelsea's squad depth was tested to the limit.

They thought the title was heading City's way but took their opportunity when it came and never looked back.

Cup disappointments and another defeat by Barcelona in Europe will have hurt but all things considered, this was a great season by Chelsea.

My prediction: 1st

2nd - Manchester City

City came within touching distance of a first WSL title in eight years but let it slip from their grasp right at the death.

After leading Arsenal 1-0 in the 88th minute, they fell to a 2-1 defeat and allowed Chelsea back into the title race with two weeks of the season left.

That will forever haunt them but this was a good season for City.

They played brilliant football, had the league's top goalscorer in Khadija Shaw and goalkeeper Khiara Keating kept the most clean sheets.

I had my doubts in the summer and they proved me wrong. They will undoubtedly be in the title race again next year.

My prediction: 4th

3rd - Arsenal

Arsenal wanted their hands on the WSL trophy and had a squad capable of winning it - so it's been a disappointing campaign.

However, they won the Women's League Cup and have secured qualification for next year's Women's Champions League so they have had some success.

But after taking 13 out of a possible 18 points against Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United this season, their lack of ruthlessness against lower-ranked sides has proven costly.

They invested in the squad in the summer and are likely to do so again, so they must show progression next season.

My prediction: 2nd

4th - Liverpool

Liverpool have had a fantastic season.

Manager Matt Beard said he wanted to break into the league's top five and close in on fourth spot. They have achieved that, building consistency throughout the season and upsetting their rivals.

They beat Manchester United on both occasions, shocked Chelsea in May and drew with in-form Tottenham twice.

Their only regrets will be failing to beat Leicester City in the Women's FA Cup quarter-finals and taking just a point from the two Merseyside derbies.

But this is a Liverpool side who have built strong foundations on and off the pitch under Beard and will be causing plenty of concern to those above them.

My prediction: 7th

5th - Manchester United

It's been a disappointing season for Manchester United given they were runners-up in the WSL in 2023.

A first major trophy was well-deserved after a strong Women's FA Cup run but it masked the disappointment of their league form.

It was always going to be difficult to replicate their highest-ever finish from the previous season, particularly with Arsenal and City strengthening, but they have been overtaken by a Liverpool side who were in the Championship two years ago.

Distractions off the pitch with new minority owners Ineos stepping in mid-season, and a host of injuries causing disruptions, are valid explanations for their drop off in form but United still had enough to challenge for a Champions League qualification spot and were unable to do so.

Manager Marc Skinner faced criticism from fans throughout, with many calling for his sacking, and he will have work to do to win them over next season after recently signing a new contract.

My prediction: 3rd

6th - Tottenham

It's been a very good first season under manager Robert Vilahamn at Tottenham.

He took a side who had scraped through a relegation battle the previous year to a first-ever Women's FA Cup final and has consolidated their place in the WSL.

They have built a strong identity, playing exciting, attacking football which is being supported by a growing fanbase and there is a new-found belief in the squad.

Tottenham have big ambitions for the future and a clear vision which Vilahamn has helped lay strong foundations for this season.

My prediction: 8th

7th - Aston Villa

Aston Villa stole the show last season, finishing a club-record fifth in the table and showing potential to push on.

However, manager Carla Ward always voiced caution, acknowledging the challenge it would take to replicate last season's success.

But nobody expected the start Villa endured, losing their first five matches and falling into the relegation zone in November.

Injuries have plagued their campaign, much like Everton's, but Villa showed a strong response to a poor start and have finished a respectable seventh.

Now, under new ownership and with successful manager Ward stepping down, there is uncertainty for the future. It will be a crucial summer at the club.

My prediction: 5th

8th - Everton

A lengthy injury crisis, financial turmoil and the loss of several big-name players meant Everton boss Brian Sorensen has had to perform miracles at times this year.

It is a credit to his staff and players that Everton have not been in relegation danger.

With all things considered, it's been a positive season from the Toffees. They had success in the Merseyside derby at Anfield and drew with Arsenal in April.

But while they have been able to show their potential in patches during a chaotic campaign, Everton will be keen to gain more consistency and push on next season.

Sorensen signed a new two-year deal in April which was crucial as Everton must now navigate another difficult transfer window on a low budget.

My prediction: 10th

9th - Brighton

There were high hopes for Brighton this year.

They had shown signs of progression under former boss Melissa Phillips the previous season and made 11 new signings in the summer.

But after an underwhelming start, Brighton made the controversial decision to sack Phillips after just nine months in charge.

It's been a disruptive few years at the club, with five managers in the past two seasons, so interim boss Mikey Harris was drafted in to provide stability.

He has been able to do that, guiding Brighton to WSL safety and giving them a playing identity, but they will be disappointed they were not able to finish higher up the table, particularly with the money spent on new signings.

My prediction: 6th

10th - Leicester City

Leicester had been building under former manager Willie Kirk and started the season well, picking up seven points in their first three games, including a draw at Manchester United.

But Leicester's season turned upside down in March when Kirk was sacked following an allegation of a player-coach relationship at the club.

Jennifer Foster stepped in on an interim basis and led the club to WSL safety, as well as an FA Cup semi-final, as Leicester showed a good response on the pitch.

They are slowly consolidating their place in the WSL but controversy has dominated the club this year. Next season could be another battle for them.

My prediction: 9th

11th - West Ham

West Ham's preparations for the season were disrupted as new manager Rehanne Skinner did not arrive until late in the summer.

Several key players had left the club and a major rebuild was needed but West Ham had to wait until January to make a significant move.

When they did act, they were able to bring in the experience and leadership they needed with Tottenham defender Shelina Zadorsky, Australia international Katrina Gorry and USA midfielder Kristie Mewis all arriving.

It had the desired effect with West Ham picking up 10 of their total 15 points after January.

Big results included a shock victory over Arsenal and a draw with Manchester United - but West Ham need to kick on next season and the club must invest.

My prediction: 11th

12th (relegated) - Bristol City

It was always going to be a tough ask for Bristol City to stay in the WSL given they were one of two clubs not affiliated with a men's Premier League outfit.

They were favourites to go down and they were never able to regain ground once they fell behind their rivals.

Manager Lauren Smith turned to youth as she tried to overcome the financial disparities in the transfer market and Bristol City showed potential.

But ultimately they lacked experience and their poor home record - they didn't win a single point at Ashton Gate - was what proved costly.

It is not all doom and gloom though. They have a squad capable of bouncing straight back up from the Women's Championship if they can keep them together and add a bit more experience.

My prediction: 12th